MANILA — Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. on Thursday said he would not support calls to bring back the accord between the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Department of National Defense (DND).
The 1989 UP-DND accord was unilaterally terminated by the agency in 2021. It requires prior notification before police and military personnel can enter and conduct operations in the state university's campuses.
Teodoro told Palace reporters that he was no longer open to reviewing this agreement.
"That has been a policy already done by my predecessor and I do not want to reverse the policy. But that does not mean to say that I am not mindful of the autonomy of the University of the Philippines," Teodoro said in a briefing in Malacañang.
"I urge everybody to be respectful of that without need of any MOA," he said.
The new defense chief however is calling on all law enforcement authorities to be "mindful of the balance between freedom of expression" and protecting peace.
If a law gets passed institutionalizing the agreement, he said he would not support it. Senator Joel Villanueva had pushed for the accord to become a law.
UP students had also called on the 19th Congress to uphold the institutionalization of the UP-DND accord by passing House Bill No. 10171 and Senate Bill No. 2491.
"Kung isabatas yan ng ating legislators at pinirmahan ng presidente, susunod tayo pero hindi ko susuportahan kasi hindi lang naman UP eh. Bakit bukod tangi ang ating unibersidad? Nandyan din naman ang ibang unibersidad na public institutions din," Teodoro said.
"Hindi lang naman ang UP ang pinagre-recruitan ng insurgents, marami ring unibersidad. Nafo-focus lang ang UP dahil it is the most prominent university of the Philippines."
Video from PTV